I am often asked why I don’t believe women should have careers outside the home. Why should men get to have an education and a career and women don’t? It’s not fair right?
The first question we need to ask
There are several ways I could answer these questions from a Biblical perspective, but there is a much simpler question that transcends all religions and cultures that I often ask when I am in a room full of people having this discussion.
I usually look to the men and make it very personal.
Your met your wife while you were both attending college and university. You were both enlightened and after all, a woman deserves to have a college education and career just as much as man right? So you both finish college and both begin your careers.
You are both about 25 years old, a few years out of college when your wife tells you she is pregnant. It is the most exciting news of your life, second only to when she agreed to marry you. As the months pass and the baby grows inside of her the question arises “how long will you take off from work when the baby is born?”
She says “well I can’t take off too long or it might damage my career, so I am thinking I will go back to work 6 weeks after I have the baby”. Now if you are an “enlightened” man, this will not disturb you in the least bit, because after all she is just as entitled to her career as you are to yours right?
What is best for infant children?
Except for men and women who have been in my audiences, most people pause and really give this question some consideration. What is best for the young infant – to be cared for by their mother or by strangers while the mother goes off and pursues her career?
Then when many people in my audience say they are unsure – I tell them there is a reason, a God given reason why they give pause to this scenario. We all know that in most cases (except if a mother is abusive or mentally ill) that it is best for a young infant to be nurtured and raised by their mother.
More often than not, the majority of men will agree a mother should be with her infant child to care for them until they can go to school. Maybe half the women will agree and the other half will not.
The women who disagree with the premise that it is best for children to be raised by their mothers (and not daycare workers) will say studies show daycare kids actually do better in school grade wise. To which I respond that while those studies may or may not be true, other studies show that daycare kids(especially ones who have been in daycare since they were infants) have emotional issues and are often much more aggressive in school.
But for those in my audience who agree that it is best that infant children be raised by their mother, I say then that we need to go back and revisit the career issue. If a woman has an average of 3 children (which is what we need to keep the world population from falling, and keep a modest growth rate) then let’s do the math.
If a woman has a child on average every two years, then that means she will spend six years having children. If she stays home to raise each of those infant children (which I agree is best for the children), then her last child will be of full school kindergarten age approximately 11 years after she had her first child.
If she starts having children when she graduates from college at 22, that would make her 33 years old before she could go to work and start a career.
Now let’s say this woman did the right thing and raised all of her children until they were all in school full time. Here is a mid-30’s woman ready to go and conquer the world. There is no problem now right?
Well let’s consider that children have a lot of school activities that involve parental involvement but Dad can start helping with these right? Maybe he can and maybe he can’t. Dad may have a demanding job that keeps him in the office or factory 50 hours a week and he can’t take off every few weeks for school activities during the day (which many elementary schools have).
If Mom goes to work who will be home when the kids get off their bus from school or will they have to be put into a latch key program? Again we must ask the question – which is better for the children, to have a mother waiting for them at home when they get off the bus or to be put in latch key?
If Mom goes to work and Dad also works a demanding job then who will have the time and energy to help the children will all their school work each night? If Mom is exhausted from work who is going to cook dinner? Mom and Dad can just rotate right?
What is better for the children and for her husband?
When the kids go off to school a stay at home mom has the chance to recharge her batteries. She can plan for meals, she can go shopping to get clothing for her children and her husband. Perhaps she can write for a blog from the comfort of her home. She can volunteer to help with things at her church and she is always available if her children or husband need something because she does not have her resources pulled away by an outside career.
When the kids get home from school mom is there to ask them about their day and help them with their homework. She can prepare nice home cooked meals (instead of takeout all the time because Mom and Dad are both exhausted from work). She can cook meals for sick shut-ins at her church. If it does not take away from her mothering duties, she can eventually run a small business selling things out of her home.
The reality is, until the children are grown to adults and move out what is best for her family and her marriage is for her to remain in the home.
But what about what is best for her?
This is the question many feminists will be shouting throughout this discussion. The answer is that what is best for a woman’s family is also what is best for her.
While studies show that women who work outside the home have less stress, what they don’t often show is who they are surveying.
Yes if you were to survey stay at home moms with infant children and toddlers they will often report stress levels that are far higher than women in their same situation with small children that have them in day care and work.
Of course you are less stressed, you are handing your kids off to strangers for 10 hours a day and you get a break to be with the grownups! Stay at home moms have a monumental and sometimes stressful task when they are raising small children. But it is worth it, and it is what is best. The easy way is not always the right way, and this is true when it comes to raising kids.
But if you were to survey stay at home Moms whose kids are all in school full time, I would wager that they will report less stressful lives than the working Moms at that point. They did the hard work, they changed the diapers, and they held the crying babies for hours on end. They also got enjoy the special moments of hearing their children’s first words, seeing them walk for the first time and all the other special firsts that God has given to Moms if they will only accept his gift. They are now reaping the benefits of their wise decision to stay home and dedicate their lives fully to their marriage and family.
When you have raised an emotionally stable child, that has been grounded in your faith and belief, and when you have a happy marriage because you had no career to distract you from giving all of yourself to your husband, you will see that God’s way is best.
God made woman for man, as a helpmeet. She is beautifully and wonderfully equipped for the task of being a full time wife and mom. But when she goes outside of God’s design, and tries to do things that God did not design her for, she will often times bring pain to not only her husband and children, but also to herself.